The Burrower and the Gate-Crashers

I’m not much interested in the gate-crashing Salahis. But I am interested in two data-points that suggest Republicans are preparing to use the gate-crashing episode like they did the travel office attack under the Clintons.

First, there’s this tweet from Karl Rove.

Good question @rip120751. SS getting bad rap. Haven’t gotten to bottom of this, likely low-level WH staffer involved—we’ll see.

And then there’s this post from Michael Isikoff, in which he seems to have reverted to both his form and his beat of the mid to late 90s. In it he credulously repeats the story of a former Bush political appointee who burrowed into the career staff at the White House before Bush left. Said burrower suggests that by stripping her of her responsibilities, White House social secretary Desiree Rogers allowed the gate-crashers to break in.

The White House staff member whose job was to supervise the guest list for state dinners and clear invitees into the events says she was stripped of most of her responsibilities earlier this year, prompting her to resign last June.

The account of Cathy Hargraves, who formerly served as White House “assistant for arrangements,” raises new questions about whether changes that she says were made by President Obama’s social secretary, Desiree Rogers, may have contributed to the security lapses that permitted Virginia socialites Michele and Tareq Salahi to crash the state dinner for India’s prime minister last week and get themselves photographed with the president.


Hargraves tells Declassified in an exclusive interview that, while she had originally been hired as a White House political appointee in 2001, she landed a new position on the White House residence staff in 2006 and was specifically detailed to the social office to work on state dinners.

And Michael Isikoff–who surely knows the implications of someone being burrowed in before a President leaves–accepts Hargraves’ claims that she’s not political at all.

In some ways, Hargraves’s account is reminiscent of culture clashes that have arisen in the past between outgoing and incoming White House staff members. Moreover, Hargraves acknowledges that the new Obama staff may have distrusted her because she had originally served as a political appointee in the office of the cabinet secretary under President Bush. But Hargraves, who is a registered nurse by profession, says she has never worked on a political campaign and, as far as she is concerned, her loyalty was to the White House as an institution, not to the Bush administration.

Because registered nurses who get hired as political appointees never had any political agenda, not at all.

Especially when they appear to be reading from Karl Rove’s script.

58 replies
  1. Leen says:

    “Because registered nurses who get hired as political appointees never had any political agenda, not at all.

    Especially when they appear to be reading from Karl Rove’s script.’

    If only Rove was tweeting in an orange suit behind prison bars for his part in outing Plame, and undermining the DOJ etc. “no one is above the law” horseshit

    Ew will never forget sitting behind David Corn and Isikoff during the Libby trial and listening to their chats. When Isikoff was referencing you, Jane and Christy be allowed to blog from the Press room he said “don’t these people have anything else to do”

    Isikoff’s obsession with Clinton was telling

    • pmorlan says:

      LOL. I posted something earlier tonight at DU about the establishment media’s obsession with the “party crashers” and the single auto accident of Tiger Woods.

      We watched on one of the Alphabet “news” shows tonight where they speculated on whether there could be a successful prosecution of the Salhi’s. I kid you not. They recoil in horror if anyone even suggests investigating, much less prosecuting our home grown war criminals, but they work themselves into a frenzy over people crashing a party and doing nothing more than having their photos taken. A party I might add that so many of our media personalities kept repeating ad nauseum was the event of the year. I think they’re all jealous of the party crashers because they got to attend the State Dinner and these wannabe’s didn’t get invited.

  2. fatster says:

    This just in.

    Court sides with Gov’t in detainee photo case

    Supreme Court throws out ruling ordering release of detainee abuse photos, cites change in law


    • phred says:

      Thanks for the scoop fatster. The AP article doesn’t mention how many judges decided to toss the ruling. Any idea how narrowly divided the court was on this? Was it unanimous on a technical point of law or split due to ideology?

      • bmaz says:

        Neither, the decision was a foregone conclusion based on the new law Obama had Congress pass for him. There was really no other decision they could make in light of his cretinous new law.

        • phred says:

          Thanks bmaz. So that would suggest a unanimous decision based on the new law, right?

          I guess the reason I ask is because I am trying to remain hopeful that as other cases float their way up to the SC that the court won’t necessarily take the view that the President is king.

    • Leen says:

      Who believes in the Supreme Court? From the 2000 Presidential selection, to keeping Cheney’s oil meetings secret,…”no one is above the law” rings hollow

      • bmaz says:

        That is total baloney, this is 100% Obama and Lieberman’s doing through specific legislation designed to obtain this result. Do not pin this tail on the the Supremes when it belongs on the donkey in the White House.

        • Leen says:

          That may be. But still have no faith in the U.S. Supreme Court. Would put a million bucks (if I had it) that if you went out on the streets and asked folks if they believe in the ability of the Supreme Court to act in a bi partisan way. The majority of folks would say “hell no”

          “no one is above the law” rings hollow

          • bmaz says:

            Those people would all be right of course. The Supreme Court should never act in a bi-partisan manner; they should never act in any kind of partisan manner at all. They should follow the law, and here they most certainly did. You are simply reacting in an arbitrary, capricious and wrong manner here.

            • Leen says:

              I did say “that may be” clearly you know more about this.
              Lots of very serious issues fall between “they should follow the law” and “do” follow the law.

              Just can not help myself from thinking about the 2000 Supreme court Judicial coup and the results from that decision

              • fatster says:

                There’s also this take on the decision:

                “Basically, the Supreme Court agreed that court orders the President does not like can be reversed by Congressional and executive action. That’s actually nothing new. What does appear new is that these newly created laws can go back and retroactively nullify previous court orders. The Supreme Court just brought that concept of retroactive nullification fully into established precedent.”


                • bmaz says:

                  And that is more absolutely pure unadulterated bullpucky. The case was NOT decided, nor even plead, on those grounds. All the Supreme Court in fact did was reverse the prior decision and remand the case to the 2nd Circuit for further and new consideration in light of the new law. The grounds being referenced in that quote will now be argued at the 2nd Circuit and THEN will almost certainly be appealed from that eventual decision to the Supremes. Then, and only then, will the Supremes be making any of the kind of determinations that people are falsely claiming they made today.

                    • bmaz says:

                      Here is the entire decision:

                      The petition for a writ of certiorari is granted. The
                      judgment is vacated and the case is remanded to the United
                      States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit for further
                      consideration in light of Section 565 of the Department of
                      Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2010, and the
                      certification by the Secretary of Defense pursuant to that
                      provision. Justice Sotomayor took no part in the consideration
                      or decision of this petition.

                      As you can tell, it makes no determinations on the merits whatsoever, and certainly not what has been characterized.

  3. phred says:

    On topic… It’s only a matter of time until Rove finds an opening to exploit. I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if some Rethug politcal operative put the Salahis up to it to create such an opening. The Rethugs will stop at nothing to prevent Dems from governing. That’s what makes it so baffling that the Dems keep groveling for their approval. It’s sickening.

    • prostratedragon says:

      I wouldn’t be entirely surprised […]”

      I either, it’s been what I’ve hedged toward the whole time. Fits the m.o., complete with the overtones from recent years’ history of gatecrashers and reluctantly received guests. Our never-better pop culture obediently provides the rationale. And since the immediate problem seems to be with SS procedures, where better for the enterprising journalist to look than … elsefuckingwhere!?

      Re the scotus ruling and bmaz’s remark: Who gets to make the “Governing is a [snap] snap!” ad?

  4. TarheelDem says:

    Said burrower seemed to have been moved out of the civil service by removing eliminating the function. That looks like a smart move. After Isikoff’s article, the WH should examine its staff for more burrowers from the W or GHW Bush administrations. Both the Linda Tripp types and the Monica Lewinsky types and any type that might play to an Obama personal weakness.

    One should also check to see whether the Salahis had ties to the Rover. The professional con-artist story is very interesting, but does not explain how they succeeded in wheedling or bulling their way into a State Dinner. Who did they claim to know who could put the hurt on the person who made the decision to admit them?

  5. Citizen92 says:

    Hargraves’ “account” is b.s.

    She was working in the White House Office of Cabinet Affairs in mid 2001. Her name shows up on various documents released from Cheney’s Energy Task Force coverup (she appears to have been a meeting contact for Cabinet Affairs).

    You’re not serving in the Bush hyper-politcal Whitehouse early in his first term unless you are a loyalist. What does a nurse know about how the Cabinet operates, pray tell?

    As for being permanently attached to the Social Office? That’s bunk. Everyone in that office is a political appointee. Had she been “detailed” from the career Residence staff, that was solely at the disretion of the Social Secretary. And that was likely breaking civil service rules. Detailees are not allowed indefinite terms of service.

    And didn’t Bush have only three state dinners during his two terms? Sounds to me like she had a sweet gig.

    Also sounds a lot like the Air Force One flyby scandal. Another bureaucratic oversight that leads to attack of one of Obama’s appointees.

  6. Citizen92 says:

    Cathy Hargraves appears to be married to Peter S. Hargraves who seems to be the Special Agent in Charge, Houston Office, Diplomatic Security Service.

    I wonder if Mr. Hargraves was somehow involved in the arrangements made for the Govt Of India’s guests at the White House. I wonder if he is involved in investigating the security breach (from the perspective of D/S mission of protecting foreign dignitaries) since the Indian PM was technically put in “danger” too.

    • WilliamOckham says:

      This Peter Hargraves?

      Peter Hargraves, then the Regional Security
      Officer for Sarajevo, was making the trip from Belgrade to Sarajevo for
      a meeting of President Clinton’s peace team with the Bosnian Government.
      As a member of the team that staffed Embassy Sarajevo under wartime
      conditions, Pete knew the dangers of the road well.

      Tragically, the edge of the road gave way beneath the armored personnel
      carrier in which Peter, Ambassador Robert Frasure, Dr. Joseph Kruzel,
      and Col. Nelson Drew were traveling, along with Lt. Col. Daniel Gerstein
      and a French soldier. The vehicle came to rest 1,000 feet below the
      roadway, in flames. Despite his own severe injuries, Pete extricated
      himself from the vehicle. He returned not once, but repeatedly, to pull
      Joe Kruzel from the wreckage and attempted to locate the other
      passengers, stopping only when the vehicle exploded. Already recognized
      for rescuing a colleague from a firefight in Somalia, Pete’s heroism
      that day was nothing short of inspirational.

      See also this article from Houston Press (via the Google Cache)

    • cinnamonape says:

      Special Agent in Charge, Houston Office, Diplomatic Security Service = Blackwater?

      From Wiki: “DS protects the Secretary of State, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and foreign dignitaries/diplomats who visit the United States. DS has protected Yasser Arafat, the Dalai Lama and Prince Charles. The agency develops and implements security programs to protect the more than 100 domestic State Department facilities as well as the residence of the Secretary of State.”

      So perhaps it wasn’t the Secret Service that had the responsibility here? But the DS? Or perhaps the foul up was with DS and not SS? I would think that the WH would be the domain of the SS, but many of the dignitaries would clearly have had DS protection.

      But I find it odd that one would lay this on the neck of a Social Secretary unless there was an invitation sent out – in which case, the Salahi’s were not “crashers” at all.

      • FromCt says:

        Oooops, I thought Rove was tweeting about Himmler’s “SS”…hence, my tweet to Karl!

        “Pryor used his private plane to fly Davis to meet with Willkie, who was then at
        his home in Rushville, Indiana. After Davis repeated his offer to Willkie”
        “President George H.W. Bush: I have read every word of Make It Happen and got an enormous kick out of it.

        Karl C. Rove: If anything, Make it Happen underplays Sam Pryor’s role in the 1940 Republican Convention and nomination of Wendell Willkie. Pryor was the pivot on what so much turned in those quick and important months. “

  7. sailmaker says:

    Somebody with good creds needs to say loudly, “Pay no attention to the disgruntled ex employee.” Worked for Bushco

    The Bush administration is dismissing scathing criticisms from former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan. In a new memoir, McClellan accuses the administration of deliberately manipulating the public to wage the war on Iraq. McClellan also criticizes his former bosses for the handling of Hurricane Katrina and the CIA leak case. On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Dana Perino called McClellan a “disgruntled” former employee. She continued, “It is sad. This is not the Scott we knew.” McClellan, meanwhile, was questioned by reporters outside his home in Arlington, Virginia.


    Former employees of the Civil Rights Division are channeling their workplace rage into lobbying force. The government lawyers say they were ignored, disrespected and kicked out by Bush appointees. The attorneys describe an increasingly partisan workplace, where political appointees intimidated career lawyers and undermined civil rights to push political agendas.

    The Justice Department rejects the charges. “Many of the criticisms of the Civil Rights Division and its current and former employees are unfounded,” said Civil Rights Division spokeswoman Cynthia Magnuson. “It is unfortunate that critics repeatedly ignore the division’s strong record and resort to political and personal attacks.”

    But the ex-employees, now safely out of the administration, are undeterred and are increasingly speaking out in a clamor of congressional testimony, letters to committees, scathing op-eds and a whole lot of well-publicized trash talking.

  8. mattcarmody says:

    Let’s see how fast Maddow has Isikoff on as an expert giving further credibility to another member of the media who deserves none. I’m getting pretty sick of seeing him.

  9. beth meacham says:

    Watching today’s press briefing. A reporter is pressing about this very issue — was the problem caused because Hargraves was fired months ago? Stunning.

  10. klynn says:

    Interesting connections EW. Citizen92 nice catch there.

    Leaves one rubbing their chin and think, “Hmmmm…”

  11. Citizen92 says:


    Can’t diary until this evening.

    BTW, decision to hire and fire Residence staff is made by the White House usher, who is chosen by the President. Current usher is Steve Rochon, a former Coast Guard Admiral, who was appointed by George W in March 2007. If Hargraves got the job in 2006, that means Gary Walters, the former usher, hired her. Walters worked in the ushers office for over 30 years, and was appointed head usher by Reagan.

    Someone should ask Rochon or Walters about this lady.

  12. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Karl Rove has loved the SS – I assume he means the Secret Service – since it dutifully complied with President Cheney’s order not to disclose its log of visitors to his official home at the Naval Observatory.

    Unless a visitor was on the invite list, their entry into a secure area seems inescapably to be an SS problem. That is, unless someone with enough juice intervened at the door. That would have to be someone with a lot of juice, since the president’s security was the issue. The, “Oh, they’re with me” schtick oughtn’t to work. If the latter, the “juicer” doesn’t seem to be owning up to this particular gaff, which makes me wonder what else we don’t know.

    Thanks also for keeping alive the burrower problem. Given Obama’s resolute avoidance of this problem, too, we ought to assume there are quite a few of them, which would suggest this administration is leaking horribly into the ears of Cheney, Karl and others. Instead of a ship captain, we seem to have elected a loquacious, attractive ensign, who’s still learning fore from aft and hasn’t yet learned to distinguish his service’s uniform from its sister services’ or the enemy’s.

  13. Citizen92 says:


    He also loved the USSS, because they helped him cover-up and obfuscate the facts around the “Denver Three” case, where in 2005, three citizens were bounced from an official taxpayer-funded event because they had a dissenting message…on their bumper sticker on their car. The Admin blamed “overzealous” volunteers, but it was eventually revelaed to be an official (and illegal) Bush staff policy. The USSS obfuscated by revealing very little of their investigation in the matter, since it also involved someone impersonating an Agent.

  14. Citizen92 says:


    How could I forget? The USSS also obfuscated Jeff Gannon’s access to the WH.

    A far cry from the day when PPD (Presidential Proective Division) were hauled before a Grand Jury to talk about Monica.

    • Leen says:

      Lies under oath about those blowjobs and cigars sure got the Republicans and some Dems justice juices going. Not so much outing a CIA agent, false pre-war intelligence, thousands dead, injured, displaced, undermining DOJ, torture. The Rethugs Justice juices are tough to get going except when it comes to smut

    • prostratedragon says:

      Aha. So, scandal permits the insertion of an aliquot of spirochetes in place of acceptably healthy tissue, which then burrow and sporulate, etc. (I’ll adjust my diction when they stop making me sick.) Today’s scandals tell you what’s going to be vulnerable 5 or 10 years down the line.

      Or rather, historic scandals tell you where today’s vulnerabilities are, since I suspect the old methodology has been superceded by something much cruder, now that the previous regime has made much circumventing of the civil service unnecessary.

  15. Citizen92 says:

    Ms. Hargraves doesn’t even appear on Dan Froomkin’s WH salaries list in 2003, 4, or 2005 when she was a political appointee. Unless at that point she had a different name.

    Also, although she claims to have been acting as “Assistant For Arrangements” from 2006-2009, it appears that a young lady name Kate Irons Dorff served in that role from 2007-2008. Her linkedin profile here:

    Seems as though someone else was doing the job Ms. Hargraves claims to have been doing.

    Bush’s State Dinners (during Hargraves’ supposed tenure):
    Feb 2007 – Nation’s Governors
    May 2007 – Queen Elizabeth
    Feb 2008 – Nation’s Governors
    Oct 2008 – Italy
    Sep 2008 – Ghana

    There were also several “official” dinners honoring Prime Ministers, etc during that time period.

    • WilliamOckham says:

      You know, it’s kinda creepy what you can find out about people on the internet. After a few minutes of googling, I’m can see that the couple in question attended Southwest Texas State (now Texas State University) and I know what frat he was in…

  16. Citizen92 says:

    Now another Bush retiree is getting into the game. Former George Bush college roommate Don Eisenat (and former protocol chief at the State Department) says that the Secret Service is being made a scapegoat. His quote? “The Secret Service are not bouncers. Their job is security.”

    Right. So the Secret Service’s job is NOT to monitor those coming and going from the White House. Guess that’s how Jack Abramoff got in so many times, undetected.

  17. Citizen92 says:


    Wash Post, Dec 30, 1995

    “He (Peter Hargraves) needed time to recuperate… At work part time at his old job with the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service in Houston until he is reassigned, Hargraves was able to attend wife Cathy’s graduation from nursing school.”

    Do just how does a nurse from (and living in) Houston find a politically appointed job in 2001 at the Bush White House?

    • WilliamOckham says:

      She graduated from nursing school, but I don’t see any evidence (yet) that she ever worked as a nurse. Her Plaxo profile only lists her job at the WH. Southwest Texas State has a reputation as a party school (and also a decent criminal justice program which was what her husband was in).

      Lots of folks from Houston got patronage jobs in 2001. I’m guessing (and this is only a guess) that she already had a background check because of her husband’s job. The Bush White House staffed up amazingly quickly in 2002.

  18. SaltinWound says:

    One interesting aspect of the Tiger Woods story: the slight whiff of Armstrong Ranch style ambiguous sovereignty emanating from the Isleworth gated community.

    • bmaz says:

      It is simply an unincorporated area; there are such areas literally everywhere across the United States, sometimes right within large metropolitan areas. There is nothing nefarious about that at all.

      • dakine01 says:

        Yep. I live in Brandon, FL outside Tampa. It is a city in all but name but is officially “unincorporated.” In fact, Brandon is far more densely settled than the other (besides Tampa) incorporated area in Hillsborough County (Ruskin).

      • SaltinWound says:

        If reports are true of the private security force of the gated community confiscating memory cards from the private security cameras of individual neighbors, I find that slightly creepy.

        • bmaz says:

          I doubt that is really the case, unless it was pursuant to request by the cops. There was a report, although poorly sourced and uncorroborated, that the FHP was trying to secure security camera footage that may have caught the time immediately before, during and after the accident.

          Do you have a link?

  19. Citizen92 says:


    Cathy and Pete moved to Fairfax, VA in Sep 1999. They sold their house in Texas before moving.

    So they were living in the DC Metro area before Cathy got her political job in Cabinet Affairs at the White House.

    Wash Post now has a piece out that the Salahis were corresponding with Michele Jones, Obama’s White House Liaison at DoD about scoring tickets to the State Dinner.

  20. Ishmael says:

    I’m surprised it took this long for Rove and Spiky Mikey to get the band back together – Credulous Whitewater Revival.

  21. PJEvans says:

    Shouldn’t the media check the credentials of their ‘informants’ a little more closely?
    It sounds to me like Ms Hargraves is not in a good position to be talking about what the WH does or does not do. Or what it did, socially or unsocially, under the BushCheney regime, either.

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